Primary rival : Latest Jackson ad again distorts Obama loyalty issue
By Abdon M. Pallasch Political Reporter email@example.com March 8, 2012 6:50PM
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and President Barack Obama. FILE PHOTO.
Updated: March 9, 2012 7:51AM
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has released a new radio commercial against rival former Rep. Debbie Halvorson that may prove just as controversial and hard-to-defend as his last one.
Congressional Quarterly said Jackson voted against President Barack Obama more than twice as often as Halvorson did during her two years in Congress.
But that didn’t stop Jackson from releasing a commercial saying Halvorson voted against Obama ”88 Times.”
It turns out she did not vote against Obama 88 times — she voted 88 times against Congressional Democratic leaders on some bills Obama never expressed an opinion on.
At a news conference criticizing that ad, and in appearances around the district, Halvorson said her loyalty to Obama — even voting for his health care plan — contributed to her losing her more conservative district in the Republican sweep of 2010.
Now she’s running against Jackson in the March 20 Democratic primary in the newly configured 2nd Congressional District stretching from Hyde Park to Kankakee.
The new Jackson ad takes a snippet of Halvorson’s quote: “Standing up with Barack Obama is what caused me to lose my seat.”
An announcer then asks: “Did she just blame President Obama?”
The ad concludes by telling voters they must choose between: “Debbie Halvorson, who votes with Republicans and blames Barack Obama ... or Jesse Jackson Jr., a loyal Democrat who’s endorsed by Barack Obama.”
Asked if it’s fair to say she is “Blaming Barack Obama” — rather than her choice to vote with him — for her loss, Halvorson said, “No. I’m consistently saying that I wouldn’t have done anything different. I will continue to stand up for what I believe in.”
Jackson has called attention to Halvorson’s votes against gun control. Halvorson had one of the best ratings among Democrats with the National Rifle Association.
But the “88 votes” mentioned in Jackson’s ads — including the new ad — include votes on which Obama called Halvorson at her home and asked her to vote with him and against Democratic leaders, she said.
“Extending the Bush tax cuts — I didn’t like that either but he called me at home and asked me to help him,” Halvorson said, explaining Obama’s deal with the Republicans. “The president wanted to be bipartisan and he asked me to help him. Jesse voted against that and he’s calling that one of the 88 votes.”
Another of the 88 votes Jackson said was against Obama but was actually just against congressional Democratic leaders was stronger ethics laws for members of Congress, Halvorson said.
Jackson’s campaign dismissed Halvorson’s complaints.
“She says that standing up with Barack Obama is what made her lose her seat, hence she blames him for her loss,” said Jackson spokeswoman Kitty Kurth. “We have not mischaracterized anything — we say consistently that she voted against Obama and the Democrats 88 times. She did.”